From some of the same folks who brought you those fun-with-worst-case-scenarios hurricane flood maps earlier this year — Neena Satija and Kiah Collier of the Texas Tribune, and Al Shaw of ProPublica — comes a fresh set of animated maps of a few of Harris County’s most flooded and floodable places, along with a bit of investigation into how they got that way (and whether that might change any time soon). The new illustrated presentation shows off the spread of properties that took a dip during some of Harris County’s last few citywide submersion events (flooded properties from Tax Day 2016 are shown in yellow above, along with the Memorial Day 2015 flooded properties in orange).
Texas A&M Galveston researcher Sam Brody tells the authors that “more people die here than anywhere else from floods. More property per capita is lost here. And the problem’s getting worse.” In sorting through some of the whos, whats, and hows of Harris County’s flood infrastructure and chronically soggy residents, the article juxtaposes the recent flood damage data with the likes of FEMA-mapped 100- and 500-year flood zones (shown above), a visual tally of the land area developed last decade, and a view of what’s left of Houston’s coastal prairie (as of 2010):
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Harris High Water
Here’s a short documentary, uploaded at the end of July, about a group of Fifth Warders doing “guerrilla gardening” — as one shovel-wielding fella describes it — on a bit of the Hardy Yards, that 50-acre patch of former Union Pacific rail yard off Burnett St., just north of Downtown.
Video: Aprill Renee
The folks over at Alloy Build think they’ve got a way to fix Houston and other sprawling cities like it: Get rid of the cars! The average vehicle, Alloy Build finds, just sits there doing nothing in a parking space for 21 hours a day. Why not use that space for something else? Once the cars are gone, the Boston design consultancy and think tank supposes, parking lots and garages and surface roads won’t be necessary anymore, either, freeing up all the wasted space in not-quite-dense-enough areas like Downtown to be grouped into dense, walkable “city cells” (i.e. neighborhoods). You’d have your office, your gym, your wine bar all right there inside your cell: It’s called “Shuffle City.”
It’s a little fanciful, the notion that Houstonians would just give away their cars. How would we get around? Well, “Shuffle City” is based on the assumption that we would freely relinquish the “ownership model” in favor of a system of shared self-propelled people-moving pods (shown at right) tracking along designated routes that encircle those “city cells.” Why drive, when you can pod? These appear to work the same way iTunes does: You can select the destination you want — Office, Gym, Vinoteca — or you can shuffle and see where the thing takes you. You know: For fun!
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